Mick Berry Honored as MPA Alumnus of the Year

PROVO, Utah – Dec 01, 2022 – Mick Berry, retired manager of Catawba County, was honored at the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics MPA Alumnus of the Year dinner. During the event, he emphasized the importance of changing the world through Christlike leadership.   
 
“Our faith gives us the capacity to envision a better future, the confidence to make that future happen, and the courage to act in the face of challenges,” Berry said during his remarks at the November 10 event. 
 
Berry, who grew up in Reno, Nevada, graduated from BYU with a bachelor's degree in economics. Originally planning to study in the BYU Marriott School of Business MBA program, Berry made the switch to BYU Marriott's MPA program after talking with a city manager. “I had no idea what a city manager was. I just sat and listened, and I ending up having an epiphany moment,” he says.  
 
The MPA program prepared Berry to be a viable candidate for jobs after graduating, and his classmates played a big role in his education. “One thing I loved about the program and BYU Marriott in general was the connections I had with the other students. Those friendships and relationships became invaluable, and I feel the same way about the professors,” he says. 
 
Berry thinks highly of the program as a whole. “The Romney Institute is, to me, a world-class institution. To be recognized as a successful product of the program is humbling and a great honor,” he says. 
 
After graduating from the MPA program, Berry and his family moved to North Carolina. They expected to live in the state for only a few years but ended up staying in the same community for the entirety of Berry’s career. He started at Catawba County in 1990 as a budget analyst, and in 2004 he became the city manager of Hickory, North Carolina. In 2016 Berry returned to Catawba County, this time as county manager. Each new job came with a steep learning curve, but Berry was surrounded by people who were interested in his success. Although he retired in early 2022, he continues to work part-time for the county.  
 
Berry shared stories from his career with the crowd, emphasizing the importance of faith, respect, excellence, and integrity. He then spoke to those in attendance as fellow disciples of Christ and encouraged them to understand their potential to make an impact in their own corner of the world. “All of you in this room are uniquely qualified to teach people how to foster harmony and transform communities,” he said. 
 
Because working as a public servant requires sacrifices, Berry admires those who choose that line of work. “When you choose a career of public service, you can still have a fulfilling career and provide for your family, but you most likely won’t be wealthy,” Berry says. “I’m in awe of people who choose that.” 
 
“The people going back to school for an MPA are literally saying we're willing to roll up our sleeves and take on some of the hardest work known to man—encouraging people to agree and to make decisions that will move a community forward,” Berry continues. “The work is extremely difficult, but dedicated public servants are stepping up and doing it successfully." 
 
To those gearing up for a career in public service, Berry offers this piece of advice: Work hard to make a change. “It's not going to be easy, but it's going be worth it,” he says. “The work is tough. You need thick skin. You're going to take a lot of criticism. But when you accomplish goals in a community and see things change, nothing is better than that.” 

Photo of Mick Berry. He is wearing a white shirt and a blue suit jacket.
Mick Berry, former manager of Catawba County. Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund.
Mick Berry standing at a podium while he talks to the crowd.
Mick Berry delivering his remarks during the MPA Alumnus of the Year dinner. Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kaelin Hagen